EDITO: Freedom of expression or threat to security?

The Tainan District Court on Tuesday cleared three members of the Taiwan People’s Communist Party who affixed a mask resembling the Chinese flag to a statue of Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta in a public park last year, before making statements arsonists. The Tainan judge’s decision is an example of inconsistent application of the law.

In a video they filmed and posted online, the three men hinted that COVID-19 originated in the United States or Japan. Such a statement could be considered spreading disinformation, which would be a prosecutable offense. The men also told the Japanese in Taiwan to “go home”. The judge said the men’s speech and actions “did not contain extreme hatred or incite crime“, but it would not be an overstatement to claim that telling foreigners residing in Taiwan to go “home” is a hate speech.

Taiwan does not have laws regulating hate speech like those in Canada or other countries, but the absence of such laws demonstrates the inconsistencies in the country’s legal system, which recognizes public defamation of an individual as an offence. criminal. In other words, in Taiwan it is illegal to publicly insult an individual for being Japanese, but it is not illegal to insult all Japanese people as a group. If the purpose of the law is to protect a person’s reputation and honor, how can they be protected when the group the individual is part of can be attacked?

The men also publicly displayed a Chinese flag and declared Taiwan to be “part of China”. Although this would not be an offense in most countries where freedom of speech is respected, Taiwanese lawmakers have called for changing laws to ban the public display of the Chinese flag. On April 20 last year, Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) and 29 other lawmakers proposed to amend the National Security Law (國家安全法) to prohibit actions that harm the national identity or working on behalf of a hostile foreign power – which would include displaying the Chinese flag.

On February 18, the Tainan city government demolished a building belonging to the Taiwan People’s Communist Party that displayed the Chinese flag. Officials said the building was demolished because it was built illegally on farmland. However, the countless structures built on farmland nationwide that remain standing suggest that the Chinese flag displayed prominently on the building could have been the real motivation behind its demolition.

It is clear from the authorities’ inconsistent actions in response to pro-China forces in Taiwan that he does not know how to walk the line between protecting democratic rights and countering what he perceives as threats to the national security. Few would argue that putting a mask adorned with a Chinese flag on a statue poses a threat to the nation, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rarely takes big steps – its strategy is usually to work in the ‘grey area’ , making small inroads that frustrate his opponents and test the limits.

Last month, national security forces investigated a Taiwan-based media production company that allegedly helped the CCP produce propaganda. If the unification espousal videos, released via an obscure YouTube channel that most Taiwanese are unlikely to see or hear of, are seen as a threat to the nation, why isn’t it the same? people standing in a public park telling passersby that Taiwan is part of China?

Legislators from all parties should seriously discuss what speech or actions should be considered threats to national security, which should be considered harmful to the well-being of people residing in Taiwan, and what action should be taken in response to them. these speeches or actions.

If there is an incoherent response from the authorities, then there will be divisions in society, and the CCP will take advantage of this inconsistency to wreak havoc in Taiwan.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. The final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

Comments are closed.